Elwood Decker Elwood Decker: A Path to God

A Note on the Photograms

Twenty-five of Elwood's photograms were exhibited at the 1954 International Salon in Bangladore, India. Elwood began by sending a series of letters and correspondence to one of the sponsors of the exhibit, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in Pondicherry. Elwood asked if he could submit some of his abstract photography for the exhibit.

He received a response from spokesperson Wilfred C. Pinto, "We do agree, if there is no color in Nirvana, there is no black and white either. But for this present Exhibition, we were forced to limit our acceptances to Monochrome only... For the next Exhibition, however, we shall certainly have a section for Photographs in colour."

Elwood was discouraged, but after much more correspondence he was finally allowed to send twenty-five of his color abstract prints to the Ashram. It was understood that they would be considered for the selection that would be displayed in the International Salon for the following year. The mail to and from India was slow, and Elwood anxiously waited to hear from the Ashram.

In 1955 Elwood received a letter from Wilfred C. Pinto. Toward the end of his letter he wrote, "We showed your colour abstract to the Mother, repeat THE MOTHER. She remarked that, 'this was just the way in which the human brain functions.' We then read the title to Her, 'So you're trying to control your mind.' She said that you conveyed exactly what you wished to express."

(Note this is a different "Mother" than the one Elwood was devoted to, Sri Sri Anandamayee Ma, born in the village of Kheora, District Tipperah, on April 30, 1898. Anandamayee was, and is, regarded by many as an earthly incarnation of the Mother of the Universe with a very large following throughout India.)

Elwood was excited. He knew about The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and had read a book about her, THE MOTHER by Sri Aurobindo, when he lived in the Dunes. She was always surrounded by many devotees and Elwood certainly hadn't expected to hear from her directly. When he received a personal message from her, he knew something special had happened and wrote in his journal, "More than ever, with the exhibition of my abstractions at the Sri Aurobindo International University, I now feel the fulfillment of my destiny as another human link between the thinking West and the Meditating East.

"Extra long meditations of about three hours made me very happy... made me even a little distant toward art, realizing what an absorbing distraction it can be unless spiritually motivated... I still want to make a movie, write a book, and paint, but most of all to be in God."

In 1956 Elwood began receiving copies of Ananda Varta, a quarterly journal published in Varanasi, India. Ananda Varta was written for the devotees of Anandamayee, and was about her life and teachings. Elwood requested eight of the back issues of Ananda Varta and also ordered twenty copies of the book about Anandamayee, MOTHER AS SEEN BY HER DEVOTEES, in English.

The Ashram was very much interested in the response the book would receive in America and asked Elwood to keep a record of people who had read or received copies of the book. In this way, Elwood rapidly became a conduit for bringing the message of Anandamayee to America.

Elwood wrote a letter to Anandamayee and it was read to her. On August 17, 1956, her reply was written by Kamal Bhattacharjee from the Anandamayee Sangha in Bhadaini, Banaras, India, and sent to Elwood,

"It is the duty of each and every human being to know his own self. Self realization means Supreme bliss, Eternal peace."

                                                                  -- NRH * * *

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